BISMARCK — Ryan Taylor, a fourth-generation rancher, published author, former policy maker and advocate for rural people and rural places, has joined Ducks Unlimited as public policy director for the prairie states of North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.

He brings to the conservation nonprofit his vast experience in policy and as a working rancher on the family’s homestead near Towner, N.D.

“Agriculture and conservation have a lot of similar goals. As a rancher, I see opportunities for those of us who enjoy wildlife and hunting and those of us who enjoy producing food,” Taylor said in a news release. “In this role as a public policy director, we need to reach back into our own experiences and remember we are often bringing groups together that don’t always see how they fit. But, we are often heading in the same direction. To me, good public policy helps us find our common interest and discover the underlying merit of working together toward something better. It’s not easy, but the challenge of it all led me to this spot.”

Taylor was a North Dakota state senator for three terms, one of which he served as Senate minority leader. He ran for governor of North Dakota in 2012. As a Bush Foundation Fellow, he attended the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and traveled to Norway to study public policies governing the country’s well-respected oil and gas development.

“Ryan brings a unique combination of experience in policy, agriculture and leadership that will help build partnerships to maintain and improve our quality of life,” said Stephen Adair, DU Great Plains operations director. “His proven abilities to work across the aisles will serve all of us well in his new leadership role.”

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Taylor also served as state director for the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Rural Development, leading $590 million in program investments and loans to improve the quality of life in rural North Dakota.

"I have always admired Theodore Roosevelt. He was a conservationist, a leader and someone who loved North Dakota's cowboy life and landscapes,” Taylor said. “He would tell us to seek out work worth doing. For me, this new work is in habitat, hunting and prairies so productive they can sustain wildlife, cows, crops and people. I think Roosevelt and I would both say this work is worth the doing.”

Taylor and his wife, Nikki, are raising three children.

“Like a lot of people who grew up on the great plains, I spent nearly every day of my youth enjoying hunting and being out on the prairie,” Taylor said. “We want to be a part of something that helps the next generation have those same experiences.”